The driver crossed the centerline and smacked into a semi-truck, according to police and witnesses.
This wreck happened in Morgan County on State Highway 9009. For unknown reasons, the 72-year-old man, who was operating a Kia, drifted across the centerline directly into the path of an oncoming semi-truck. He died almost instantly.
Several different agencies are involved in this investigation.
Kinds of Negligence in a Car Crash Claim
Negligence is essentially a lack of care under the circumstances. In car crash claims, the “lack of care” usually means a lack of reasonable care. This duty requires motorists to drive defensively and obey the rules of the road. There are basically three types of negligence in a car crash claim.
Commercial operators are common carriers in Kentucky. Therefore, they have a duty of highest care. This higher duty sometimes affects third party liability issues. More on that below.
The “circumstances” of a car crash claim sometimes vary and sometimes don’t. For example, all noncommercial drivers usually have the same duty of care. It doesn’t matter if they have been driving for five minutes or five decades, at least in most cases.
Occasionally, car wrecks happen before they happen. Drivers are intoxicated, sleepy, or otherwise unfit to drive. Yet they get behind the wheel anyway, thereby placing their own convenience above the safety of other people on the road.
Because of this recklessness, a Lexington personal injury attorney can normally obtain very high compensation in these matters. Many jurors, especially Fayette County jurors, are eager to punish tortfeasors (negligent drivers) who think they are more important than everyone else.
Frequently, the law establishes the standard of care in behavioral negligence claims. For example, people cannot drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, even if they legally consume the substance. If tortfeasors violate safety laws and cause crashes, they could be liable for damages as a matter of law. This doctrine is called negligence per se.
As mentioned, sometimes the duty of care changes. Environmental negligence claims are one example of this change.
Drivers must slow down when the roads are wet, the sky is dark, or environmental conditions are otherwise less than ideal. On a related note, there are some cars, such as Dodge Chargers, which are dangerous at high speeds, especially if the operator is inexperienced. It’s not a good idea to open these cars up and see what they can do.
Environmental negligence claims usually involve the ordinary negligence doctrine. Victim/plaintiffs must prove negligence, or a lack of care, by a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not.
In some jurisdictions, these claims involve a variation of the negligence per se rule. Usually, if tortfeasors speed, make illegal turns, or violate other non-penal safety laws, negligence per se is a presumption of negligence.
Wrong-way/head-on crashes are a good example. There’s a difference between these two kinds of wrecks. Wrong-way drivers are usually operating safely, but on the wrong side of the road. Other drivers can usually avoid these wrecks if they are paying attention to the road and able to react quickly. In a head-on wreck, the tortfeasor, who is often driving erratically to begin with, unpredictably drifts across the centerline. Other drivers usually cannot avoid these collisions, especially if environmental or traffic conditions are poor, or if they are riding two-wheel motorcycles.
It’s unclear if the wreck in the above story was a wrong-way crash or a head-on crash. A Lexington personal injury lawyer must investigate the matter closely.
Third Party Liability
These operational negligence claims are quite complex if the possibly-evasive driver was a commercial operator. On the one hand, these motorists have a higher duty of care, as mentioned above. They have a responsibility to avoid wrecks if at all possible. On the other hand, a large Peterbilt truck does not stop on a dime and is very hard to maneuver in emergencies.
This discussion matters because of the respondeat superior doctrine. Shipping companies, transportation companies, and other truck owners are financially responsible for damages if their employees are negligent during the scope of their employment. People like owner-operators are usually “employees” for negligence purposes.
Respondeat superior and other vicarious liability theories are especially important in wrongful death claims. These survivors need and deserve substantial compensation. Frequently, individual drivers don’t have enough insurance coverage to make good on these losses.
Vehicle collision claims involve complex factual and legal matters. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Lexington, contact the Goode Law Office, PLLC. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters. #goodelawyers